Skin tags are benign outgrowths of skin. Often they grow in the folds of the skin, commonly on the neck, armpits, and around the eyes.
In cases where they are visible, many people choose to have them removed as a cosmetic procedure. Tags can range in number; size; and colour not always the same as your normal skin tone. They are more prevalent in older and overweight people who tend to have developed more folds of skin.
There are a number of ways you can have skin tags removed depending on personal preference. Here’s a brief overview:
Cutting Skin Tags Off
Your doctor may elect to cut off larger skin tags. They do this by numbing the area before removing the tag with a scalpel. Usually there is minimal bleeding, though this will depend on the size. If the doctor is concerned about the characteristics of the tag, they might perform a medical biopsy and send it to a lab for testing.
Burning Skin Tags Off
Dermatologists may opt to cauterise skin tags using an electric current passed through a wire. When very hot, the wire is applied to the tag in order to burn off the skin layers. A scab will form, which in time will simply drop off. The skin shade will also fade over time.
Tying Off Skin Tags
Another skin tag removal technique is called ‘ligation’. The dermatologist ties off the tag at its base in order to cut off its blood supply. This causes the cells of the tag to die and for it to then drop off. The procedure takes around 7 to 10 days. It’s relatively painless and easy to perform.
Freezing Skin Tags Off
This method, known as ‘cryotherapy’ is the one we employ. Liquid nitrogen is directed as a fine jet under high pressure from an instrument called a ‘CryoPen’. This freezes and destroys the cells of the skin tag, causing very little discomfort. Just a slight stinging sensation for a few minutes. The tag pigment will darken over time and the outgrowth will fall off within a week or two. The area of skin treated will then heal quickly.
It’s possible to buy a product over the counter of a chemist’s that can be used to remove tags, called ‘Compound W Freeze Off’. It’s safe to use and can remove tags relatively quickly, though users post mixed reviews on its efficacy.